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Shelley Nolden Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Vines (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Shelley Nolden
Shelley Nolden, who was born and raised in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, went east after having matriculated from the University of Minnesota. After she lived in New York City for five years as she worked in finance, she and her husband moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey, figuring they weren’t meant for city life.

In the year 2011, she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. First sign of this disease was losing her baby during the nineteenth week of being pregnant. She spent the first forty days of her illness inpatient, simultaneously mourning the loss of her baby as she missed her eighteen month old.

Since this sort of leukemia prevents platelets from maturing into functioning clotting cells, it prevented her daughter from being able to visit since even a hug could have proved lethal. Throughout this ordeal, she kept a cancer blog and contributed regularly to cancer-related publications.

She developed a deep rooted drive to help others affected by cancer, because of her personal experience, and subsequently became a Co-founder of GRYT Health. It is their mission to improve quality of life and increase the survival for people that face cancer through a relentless focus on patient experience.

Due to her experience as a swimmer then rower in college, as well as her years as a woman on Wall Street, she acted on her passion for the advancement of women’s rights by becoming an Advisor to Goal Five. This is a woman’s sports apparel company which is named after the United Nations’ Fifth Sustainable Development Goal of achieving gender equality and empower all girls and women.

Shelley swims in order to combat writer’s block. With her head underwater, the rhythmic and calming repetition of the laps enables her mind to wander freely. Whenever she’s got a plotting conundrum, she’ll go to the pool and she doesn’t get out until she has solved the problem. Since she’s always planning ahead in her writing during her swim workouts. She never sits down in front of her laptop without a clear sense for what she is going to write.

When she and her husband were on an airplane descending down to LaGuardia Airport in 2014, he told her she should write a novel about North Brother Island down below. Closing her laptop on the book she was working on at the time, she leaned over him in order to get a glimpse. She was stunned that such a sprawling ruins, which was visible in winter without the foliage, existed so close to where she worked in Manhattan but she had never even known they existed.

When they landed, she immediately looked on the Internet to learn even more about this mysterious island. The history of it fascinated her, yet she felt she did not have a firm enough grounding in the setting to place a full novel there. It was here that she hit a roadblock since there wasn’t sufficient information to give her a clear sense of the structures and their purposes while they had changed over the course of the twentieth century.

Months later, Christopher Payne’s photography book on the island was released, and gave her critical and crucial details which served as the foundation for her research. She went to his standing room only book launch event. While watching his enraptured audience hang on each and every word of his lecture, accompanied by his pictures of the hospital ruins, she knew that she was onto something.

Throughout the entire drafting process, she used details from the pictures in his book and other images that she found online to generate some plot ideas. Like the opening scene involving a cracked porcelain tub inside the staff house, with its outer wall collapsed, came to her as she studied the photograph of the crumbling bathroom. The rickety exam table in the morgue shows up in many collections of North Brother Island photographs. This exam table plays an important later role in the book.

Cora’s love of grammar came to Shelley because of a grammar book whose title was actually visible in a photo of books scattered across the floor of the staff house.

Throughout the novel there are these small references to objects which appear in images of NBI which can be found easily online. North Brother Island enthusiasts are going to recognize these elements.

Finding a perfect title to “The Vines” was no easy task. Anything pandemic or virus related would’ve just been too limiting. It’s a sweeping historical fiction saga which details a woman’s battle to survive against rather insurmountable odds, and not a medical drama or pandemic fiction, at least in the traditional sense.

After a many failed brainstorming sessions, they finally hit on “The Vines”. The phrase perfectly symbolizes the rampant wilderness which has overtaken this abandoned hospital complex on North Brother Island and Cora’s own indomitable spirit.

Shelley Nolden’s debut novel, called “The Vines”, was released in the year 2021. Shelley’s obsession with forbidden North Brother Island in New York City’s East River, along with her own personal health history and her passion for equality each heavily influenced the creation of this historical fiction thriller.

“The Vines” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2021. In the shadows of New York City lies forbidden North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital are hiding the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of human experiments and centuries-old quarantines. The ruins are hiding the beautiful and scarred Cora, who is captivated by contagions and those doctors that torment her.

When a young urban explorer, named Finn, shows up on the island and glimpses the enigmatic beauty through the foliage, intrigue becomes obsession while seeking to learn about her past, as well as his family’s dark secrets. Through unraveling these mysteries, is he going to be able to save Cora? Is she going to meet the same tragic ending like the thousands who have perished already on the island?

This novel intertwines North Brother Island’s elusive and horrific history with a captivating story of betrayal, survival, love, and loss.

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